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  • The Organ Donor Foundation of South Africa (ODF) is a national non-profit and public benefit organisation established in 1988 to address the critical shortage of organ and tissue donors in South Africa through awareness and education campaigns aimed at the public and medical professionals.

  • The ODF is the national umbrella body for the promotion of organ and tissue donation. We actively plan and implement education and publicity programmes that are designed to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation with the aim being to prime individuals towards consent.

    The ODF is not a medical organization and plays no role in the allocation, or procurement, of organs. We receive no funding from government and rely entirely on our own fundraising initiatives and generous donations from corporates and individuals to support our work.

    The Foundation has two main focuses:

    1. To raise awareness amongst the entire South African population about the need for, and the benefits of, organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

    2. To educate medical professionals, in both the public and private sector, about the transplantation process. We aim to motivate medical personnel to consider organ and tissue donation when assessing brain-dead patients and help achieve a more efficient referral system, so that more life-saving organ transplants and more life restoring tissue transplants will be performed in South Africa.

    We also administer an Emergency Flight Plan, which pays for the transportation of vital organs from outlying areas to transplant hospitals if sponsored flights and/or funding is available to do so.

  • As a non-profit organization and subject to the provisions of the National Health Act, No. 61 of 2003, our objectives are as follows:

    The primary objective is to promote awareness of life-saving solid organ transplants. The secondary objective is to promote awareness of tissue and life-enhancing transplants. The ODF’s objective is not to be responsible for, or directly involved in any medical-related processes, treatments, organ procurement or organ allocation.

    In fulfilling its objectives, the ODF has the following aims (without limitation):

    • to educate the public about organ and tissue donation;
    • to engender a greater willingness amongst members of the public to donate their organs and tissue;
    • to significantly increase the number of members of the public registered as organ and tissue donors with the ODF, and to record these registered organ / tissue donors on an easily accessible registry/database which will be used as a means of measuring the success of organ and tissue donor awareness drives;
    • to assist medical professionals and stakeholders responsible for donor identification by helping with financial assistance towards organ donor and tissue referral programmes and workshops, such assistance shall be provided at the Board's sole discretion and only if it is financially viable for the ODF to do so;
    • where possible, the Board, acting in its sole discretion, shall assist in advocating the challenges of organ transport and delivery and to increase the number of possible transport and delivery incidences that are required, and to do all such things as are consistent with the aforegoing objectives and aims.
  • Samantha Nicholls
    Executive Director

    Samantha has worked for the Organ Donor Foundation for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge on organ donation and transplantation in South Africa. She has worked herself up through the ranks, starting as a junior assistant to her current position which involves leading the the Organ Donor Foundation’s daily operations. Samantha's vast knowledge of the organization - its needs, strengths, weaknesses and potential, makes her the perfect leader to ensure that proactive strategies are in place to guarantee long-term sustainability and to achieve the organisational objectives.

    Samantha Nicholls is responsible for the daily management of the entire organization and oversees all national and regional projects.

    Jooste Vermeulen
    Director of Communications

    Jooste Vermeulen brings over 20 years of advertising and marketing experience to the Organ Donor Foundation. He donated a kidney to his son in 2007 and has been intimately involved for over 10 years while his son waits for an organ transplant.

    Under the communications portfolio, Jooste is responsible for driving national organ donor awareness and increasing the number of people registering as organ and tissue donors. He is involved in planning communication strategies, the messaging and branding of the Organ Donor Foundation as well as management of the IT and database development.

    • Dr Niels-Otto Thaning
      Cardiothoracic Surgeon
    • Mrs Samantha Nicholls
      (Executive Management)
      Executive Director
    • Mr Jooste Vermeulen
      (Executive Management)
      Director of Communications
    • Mr Peter Roseveare
      Chartered Accountant
    • Mr Saul Berman
      Managing Director, Berman Bros
    • Prof Heinz Rode
      Emeritus Professor
    • Prof. Alp Numanoglu
      Head of Surgery Red Cross Children's Hospital
    • Dr Julian Jacobs
      Specialist Physician and Nephrologist
    • Shelley Mackay-Davidson
      Director of Brevity Law
  • Terms and Conditions

    By registering as an organ donor I understand and agree with the following: I’m registering as an organ donor by my own conviction. I understand that registering, as an organ donor, is completely free of charge. I agree that my personal information may be stored on the database of the Organ Donor Foundation and be only used for the advancement of organ donor awareness in general.

    I accept that the Organ Donor Foundation will secure and safeguard my personal information within the framework of the South African Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI-2013). I agree to inform my next of kin of my wish to be an organ donor. If I’m under the age of 18 I confirm that my parents or guardians are aware that I‘m registering as an organ donor.

    I agree that medical professionals may have access to my personal information and the information of my next of kin and that this information will only be used, if relevant, for the purposes of my intention to be an organ donor.

  • Public Identity, Branding, Rules and Logo Downloads

    The logo is made up of the five colours found in the South African flag and symbolizes five people holding out their hands to be helped or alternatively five people extending their hands to help others. The logo also represents the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu*
    * Ubuntu (/ˈbʊnt/ oo-BUUN-too; Zulu/Xhosa pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼú]) or "uMunthu" (Chichewa) and "Botho" (Setswana) is a southern African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. Some believe that ubuntu is a classical African philosophy or worldview[1] whereas others point out that the idea of ubuntu is a philosophy or worldview developed in written sources during the second half of the 1900s.[2] The word ubuntu has its origins in the Bantu languages of southern Africa.
    From Wikipedia:

     Colour break up of the logo:

    The words ORGAN DONOR FOUNDATION must be 80% Black
    The five figurines in the logo is made up as follow:
    Color Pantone CMYK
    Red 179c C0-M90-Y90-K0
    Green 3415c C100-M0-Y80-K20
    Yellow 1235c C0-M25-Y80-K0
    Blue Reflex Blue c C100-M80-Y0-K0
    Black Black K100
    The inversely curved slogan SAVE SEVEN LIVES is Green: Pantone 1235c or CMYK C100-M0-Y80-K20

    IMPORTANT: The logo with the title ORGAN DONOR FOUNDATION, the five figurines arranged in a circle and the inversed slogan in green SAVE SEVEN LIVES may not be separated, arranged in a alternative arrangement or distorted in any way. The logo is a unit and must be used as a complete unit at all times.

    Logo in monotones.

    One person can potentially save seven lives by donating one heart, one liver, one pancreas, two lungs and two kidneys.
    The slogan aims to empower an individual to feel enriched by the possibility of potentially saving the lives of seven people.

    Sub Slogan
    It is the person who decides to be an organ donor’s responsibility to inform his/her family of their wish to be an organ donor. The reason for this is that the next of kin must first give their consent before a medical team will consider making use of the opportunity of donation from a cadaver donor.

    Website Address
    The website address must accompany all communications concerned with the Organ Donor Foundation.

    Toll Free Number
    0800 22 66 11
    The Toll Free number must accompany all communications concerned with the Organ Donor Foundation

  • NPO: 003-458 NPO
    PBO: 18/11/13/4


  • Our public awareness initiatives are as follow:

    TOLL FREE LINE: We administer a toll free line providing information to the public about organ and tissue donation

    WEBSITE: We maintain an informative and easy to use website where people are able to register as organ and tissue donors on-line, find out more information about organ and tissue donation, or make a financial contribution to the ODF.

    DISTRIBUTION OF INFORMATION: We distribute organ and tissue donor identification cards and information brochures to the public and use a volunteer network to do so. We distribute 100,000 information leaflets annually to transplant centres, to the public, to companies, or to anyone who requests information in South Africa.

    EDUCATIONAL TALKS: Each year we give educational talks on organ and tissue donation at various institutions including high schools and primary schools, tertiary institutions, companies and any institution or gathering requesting a talk. During the visit, our team presents an informative talk on organ and tissue donation and transplantation, using visual aids and presentations.

    CORPORATE WELLNESS DAYS: The Organ Donor Foundation is invited to and attends many corporate health and wellness days each year. These days are a wonderful opportunity for us to meet the public and educate them on transplantation and organ/tissue donation.

    EXPOS AND AWARENESS EVENTS: The ODF is invited to host an awareness stand at various events - one example is the annual Cape Homemakers Expo at the CTICC

    SOCIAL MEDIA: We have a dedicated staff member responsible for maintaining interactive social media pages on Facebook – the link is available on the home page of our website.

    MEDIA: We actively engage with the media by participating in television and radio interviews and print campaigns to drive awareness of Organ and Tissue Donation Nationally.

    ANNUAL WALKS: We have three annual walks in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to drive Organ and Tissue awareness and to encourage public participation.
  • The Organ Donor Foundation initiated, developed and maintains the database where members of the public can register as an organ donor.

    Members of the public can register online on the website; or by filling out a form and forwarding it to ODF; or by downloading the ODF App onto their cellphone.

    The database provides ODF with a tool to measure demographics and contains all the necessary contact and next of kin details of potential organ donors.

      ODF works closely with transplant coordinators throughout the country who coordinate and arrange Organ Procurement Skills (OPS) workshops. The objective of this initiative is to educate medical professionals to detect, identify and evaluate potential organ and tissue donors with the end result being to increase the number and quality of organs / tissue available for procurement and transplantation.

      The training comprises lectures from expert professionals on transplantation of solid organs and tissue in adults and children. The practical component includes: donor detection, diagnosis of brainstem death, donor management, organ viability, family consent and legalities, and organ and tissue harvesting.

      One of the major issues that directly impact’s the success of organ and tissue transplantation is a lack of knowledge and understanding of donor identification, organ / tissue procurement and management within the medical community. As a result, many hospitals in outlying areas are not affiliated to a transplant centre and may not know where to refer potential donors; nor do they have the necessary skills or knowledge to identify and manage potential donors. It is crucial that medical professionals in these hospitals become passionate about organ / tissue donation as the lack of knowledge and understanding has a direct bearing on the number of referrals made.

      ODF, with the kind assistance of sponsors, facilitates the funding, where possible, for these educational visits to various regions in outlying areas. Top professionals in the field of transplantation present informative lectures on organ and tissue transplantation.

      With the aid of sponsorship, ODF produces and distributes organ donor information files to intensive care and trauma units in hospitals countrywide. These files are vital references as it provides essential guidelines for medical staff.

    If your hospital is interested in training, please contact the Organ Donor Foundation on our Toll Free line: 0800 22 66 11 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    (The isiXhosa word “Uluntu” meaning “humanity” and “community”)
    The Organ Donor Foundation is in the process of rolling out the ULUNTU Awareness Campaign in vulnerable communities as a first step towards breaking through cultural barriers in order to increase organ and tissue donor consents.

    Preliminary studies have shown that having no knowledge, limited knowledge, or an understanding framed by misinformation or myths, impacts an individual’s response to the concept of organ donation and transplantation. Additionally, cultural and traditional beliefs play a major role.

    At present there are no formal programmes in vulnerable communities to educate and inform people about the concept of organ transplantation. Tied to this, many individuals are not aware of the high incidences of organ failure or the likelihood that they, a family member, close friend or acquaintance, could very well find themselves on dialysis and needing a lifesaving transplant.

    Thus a holistic approach will be used involving research in the form of information gathering with Transplant Coordinators from feeder hospitals to baseline surveys, which will be carried out with the communities. The awareness drive will be done using community participative methods and grassroots outreach that has been developed to directly address cultural and traditional barriers to organ and tissue donation and includes preventative education.

    The Organ Donor Foundation is currently working towards implementing the organ donor database/registry as an interactive tool to be used by the Transplant Coordinators during the referral and consent stage as an aid to speed up and facilitate the process by making it easier for the Transplant Coordinators to contact the next of kin due to having access to the contact details and as a way to facilitate the conversation during the decision making stage.

    The database also serves as a powerful instrument at that time when consent is needed to reassure family members of ones intention to donate, which makes the family’s decision an easier one to make.


    The Organ Donor Foundation administers the Transplant Flight for Life – Emergency Flight Plan. The fund was set up to finance chartered flights to transport organs from remote areas to waiting recipients when there are no scheduled flights available.

    These charters range in costs from R50,000 to R100,000 per flight and this service is used by both state and private hospitals and transplant centres countrywide

    ODF receives a limited number of sponsored flights each year and attempts to use all sponsored flights before incurring flight costs. Use of the flights depends on the availability of the aircraft, crew and sponsorship allocation. If we cannot access a sponsored flight, we must pay for a chartered flight if funding is available. This kind of outlay places a huge burden on ODF’s funding efforts.

  • Volunteers and third party organisations play an important role in assisting ODF to reach more people to create awareness of organ and tissue donation.

    ODF provides volunteer training to empower volunteers to assist with the following:

    • manning of awareness stands;
    • assistance at sporting and social events;
    • giving awareness talks at corporate wellness days;
    • giving awareness talks at schools, and
    • giving awareness talks at churches and similar type gatherings.

    The training comprises an introduction to the work that ODF does and covers important information about transplantation, including the history of ODF and organ / tissue transplants and the need for more transplants. It outlines why there is a shortage of donors and also which organs and tissue can be donated. Essentially it equips volunteers with the knowledge needed to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation and provides the guidelines on how to do so.

    Should you wish to volunteer, please contact the Organ Donor Foundation on our Toll Free line: 0800 22 66 11 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Please note: Volunteer assistance is limited to the above activities. While ODF appreciates and is thankful for all assistance offered, it is not in a position to accept offers that extend beyond these activities. The executive management committee strategically selects months in advance those campaigns and activities that will best achieve its aims and objectives and allocate its scarce resources accordingly.

    It is therefore not always possible or feasible for ODF to extend its resources to manage/oversee new campaigns and/or to manage/oversee the services being offered by third parties. It also needs to be noted that the ODF is not in a position to allocate resources to those campaigns that extend beyond its scope, that duplicate its current efforts and/or require more resources than it has available.

    Should you wish to offer assistance for an activity not listed above: please select the link “submission for proposals or campaigns by third parties” located under the “contact us” link


  • Bone SA is a Non Profit Company (NPC), whose main objective is to promote the interests of people who have been disabled by disease or injury, through the distribution of bone related allografts. Bone SA achieves this by bringing together donors and recipients in co-operation with the Centre for Tissue Engineering (CTE) at the Tshwane University of Technology.

    For more information please visit the website on:

  • The Centre for Tissue Engineering (CTE) of the Tshwane University of Technology is a multi-disciplinary Human Tissue bank who sources, processes and supplies Human Tissue (eye tissue; skin; bone & tendons and cardiovascular tissue) for implant, transplant and therapeutic purposes. The CTE is committed to respect and dignity to the donor and his family and dedicated to promoting donation for the purpose of improving quality of life through tissue transplantation.

    For more information please visit the website on:

  • The Eye Bank Foundation of SA is the Western Cape Eye Bank, registered as a Non-Profit organisation whose primary function, as authorized by the South African Department of Health, is to procure and distribute human eye tissue (namely corneal and sclera tissue) to ophthalmic surgeons for transplantation purposes in order to improve the sight of persons who are blind or partially blind due to corneal disease or injury.

    For more information please visit the website on:

  • The Gauteng Cornea & Eye Bank is a Non Profit, Section 21 Company, registered with the South African Department of Health to procure, medically evaluate and distribute corneal and scleral tissue, which has been donated by caring individuals for use in transplantation. Donor tissue is requested and utilised by medical doctors and ophthalmologists registered by the HPCSA, within both the private and provincial hospital sectors. The Gauteng Eye Bank does not utilise donated tissue for research purposes.

    For more information please visit the website on:

  • The KZN Cornea & Eye Association is a Non Profit, Section 21 Company whose objective it is to alleviate the ever-increasing need for corneal tissue in KwaZulu Natal, under the authority of the South African Department of Health. Corneal and sclera tissue which has been donated by caring individuals is medically evaluated and distributed by the eye bank. This precious tissue is used for corneal transplantation and scleral grafting in order to restore sight for those who suffer from corneal dystrophies or injuries.

    For more information please visit the website on:

  • The Homograft Valve Bank in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of the Free State strive to conduct research in various aspects of cardiac surgery and to provide surgeons with cryopreserved aortic and pulmonary heart valve homografts of optimal quality for transplantation. This is especially aimed at the correction of congenital heart defects in paediatric patients, but also for certain adult corrective surgeries. The bank is currently the sole supplier of cryopreserved homograft valves and conduits to cardiac units in South Africa.

    For more information please visit the website on:


  • FAQ's

    Medic Alert and Elixir Medical Shields provide these items, not the Organ Donor Foundation. Please telephone Medic Alert on (021) 425 7328/ 0861 112 979 or Elixir Medical Shields on 0861 115 178 for further information.

    The process is straightforward. Register online or call the Organ Donor Foundation’s toll free line on 0800 22 66 11. We will then send you a small organ donor card to fill in and carry in your wallet. We will also send you a sticker to put on your ID document and on your driver’s license. It is very important to discuss the decision with your family. Let them know that you want to donate your organs / tissue after death. Ask them to honour your wish when you die.

    Any person who is in good health and is clear of defined chronic diseases that might adversely affect the recipient will be considered as a possible donor.

    Having a medical condition does not necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ / tissue donor. The decision about which organs / tissue will be transplanted will be established at your time of death.

    No. Medical tests will only be carried out at the time of death. This will involve medical professionals evaluating your medical and social history, carrying out blood and culture tests and conducting a physical examination. This is done to ensure that your organs and tissue is suitable for donation.

    An organ transplant takes place after an individual has been declared brain dead but is still being supported on a respirator, whereas tissue retrieval can still take place several hours and even days after death.

    Another difference is that the recipient will receive the donated organ shortly after retrieval, whilst tissue is usually stored in a special Tissue Bank and is therefore available for use as and when needed.

    Your heart, liver and pancreas can save 3 lives and your kidneys and lungs can help up to 4 people. You can 7 seven lives.

    You can help up to 50 people by donating your corneas, skin, bone, tendons and heart valves.

    Yes. Please inform your family which organs / tissue you do not wish to donate.

    It is essential that organs are removed as soon as possible after brain death has been declared in order to ensure successful transplantation. Legislation requires brain death to be certified by two independent doctors.

    In the case of tissue, a donation can take place up to a few days after death. Many people die at work or on the roads and never make it to the hospital. In such instances an organ donation would not be possible, however, a tissue donation, which is equally needed and valuable, can be successfully carried out.

    For privacy and legislative reasons, donors and recipients are not identified.

    Bone tissue transplants are the second most common transplant performed on patients, second only to blood transfusions. Many thousands of patients receive allograft tissue every year, most of which comes from non-living donors whose loved ones consented to donation.

    No, it costs nothing to sign up as an organ / tissue donor.

    No, the donor and his/her family will not incur any costs. The hospital or Tissue Bank will cover all medical expenses from the moment your family has given consent for the donation of organs / tissue.

    No. Organ / tissue donation is a gift.

    No, organ / tissue donation is a Gift of Life from one family to another. Trading in organs and tissue is illegal and prohibited.

    Yes, in some cases. Live donations, such as a kidney are often done between family members, because the blood groups and tissue types are more compatible. This ensures a higher success rate.

    Two doctors, who are completely independent of the transplant team, have to perform detailed tests before a person can be declared brain dead. The criteria for brain death is very strictly adhered to and accepted medically, legally and ethically in South Africa and internationally.

    All potential organ donors are patients on support systems. Tests are carried out to determine brain death. Once brain death is certified, permission is obtained for organ donation. Death of the organ donor is defined by the time of certification of brain death, not by the withdrawal of support.

    No. As soon as the donated organs / tissue has been removed, the body is returned to the family to bury or cremate.

    No. The utmost respect and dignity is given to the donor at all times. The recovery of organs and tissue is carried out with great care by surgeons and trained staff and the process does not change the way the body looks.

    Speak to the medical professional attending to your loved one – physician, ICU & trauma unit nurse, neurologist, etc. Inform them of your loved ones wishes. Ask for contact details of the closest transplant centre or call the Organ Donor Foundation's Toll Free Line 0800 22 66 11 for assistance.

    Most religions support organ and tissue donation as it is consistent with life preservation. If you are unsure, you should talk to your spiritual leader.

    Yes. You can change your mind at any time. Simply tear up your organ donor card and remove the sticker from your ID document and driver’s license. Please inform your family that you no longer wish to be an organ / tissue donor.


    What is a cornea?
    The cornea is a thin, clear layer of the eye that covers the iris (the coloured part of the eye) and the pupil. It looks just like a contact lens and it is the size of a 1 cent piece. It is a vital part of the eye. Light first penetrates the corneas, becomes focused by the lens, and is then projected onto the retina where the stimulation becomes interpreted as a visual picture by the brain. In addition to its optical functions, the cornea forms part of the outer protective layer of the eye and maintains the shape and integrity of the eyeball. In order to perform at its optimum, the cornea must remain crystal clear and have the correct shape.

    What are the consequences of corneal disease or injury?
    Should the cornea become cloudy from disease, injury or any other cause, one’s vision will become dramatically reduced and sight can be lost. Severe damage of the cornea also impairs the protection of the eye from the drying environment and from infection. Corneal disease and corneal injuries lead to blindness in millions of people worldwide and is a common cause of poor vision in South Africa.

    Who needs a cornea transplant?
    Adults, children and even babies may need a transplant because of cornea failure due to:

    • Hereditary problems such as Fuchs' dystrophy or keratoconus (thinning and steepening of the cornea);
    • Scarring after injury, ulceration or infection;
    • Ageing processes may affect the clarity and health of the cornea,
    • Corneal disease.

    How great is the need for cornea and eye tissue?
    Despite hundreds of corneal graft surgeries taking place each year in South Africa, the need is ever increasing and unfortunately never satisfied. To date, the use of artificial materials for corneal transplants has been unsuccessful. As a result, patients awaiting corneal transplants depend solely on the gift of tissue donation. If you choose to donate the whole eye instead of the cornea alone, the white of the eye (sclera) can also be used for other types of eye disease.

    What is a cornea transplant?
    A corneal transplant is a delicate, micro-surgical procedure that replaces a disc segment of an injured or diseased cornea with a similarly shaped piece of healthy donor cornea. The operation has an extremely high success rate.

    Who can be a cornea donor?
    Anyone can be a donor. Individuals often believe that they have to have good vision in order to donate; however, the truth is that corneas can be used even if a donor wears glasses. Persons under the age of 18 require parental permission. The exclusions are as follows: positive virology results for infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B or C and Septicemia.

    When and how are the corneas removed?
    Ideally, corneas need to be removed within 6 to 12 hours after death. The procedure is performed by trained Eye Bank Technicians and can be carried out at the mortuary, at the undertaker, at the hospital, or even at the home. Because the procurement is performed mere hours after death, there is no delay in funeral procedures.

    How soon will the donated corneas be used for transplantation?
    A corneal transplant is usually performed within 1 to 10 days after donation, depending on the completion of testing, the location of the receiving hospital and the preparation of the selected recipient.

    What happens to the corneas if they are found to be unsuitable after procurement?
    All donors and corneas are carefully evaluated. Less than 1% of corneas previously donated to the bank have been deemed unsuitable for transplant. In the unlikely event of this occurring, the Eye Bank has a policy regarding the medical discarding of tissue through an established hospital procedure.

    If I donate my loved ones eyes or corneas, can we still have an open casket funeral?
    Yes. Great care is taken to preserve the appearance of the donor. Following donation, it is very difficult to notice that anything looks any different. Any funeral option is available to the family, including a viewing. Donor families are encouraged to discuss their funeral arrangements, times and circumstances with the Eye Bank staff in order for their wishes to be respected and adhered to.

    Do corneal transplant and scleral graft recipients pay for their tissue?
    Donated tissue is procured by trained personnel. Thereafter, it is carefully stored in preservation media and is transported to the Eye Bank where it is placed in a temperature regulated refrigerator. The tissue is then evaluated for infections and imperfections before being made available for recipient selection and allocation, with the assistance of an evidence based computer allocation process. The tissue is then transported to the requesting hospital in a controlled environment with tracking procedures to ensure its safe arrival. Naturally, this process involves utilising sterile, disposable consumables, employing professional staff and possessing the necessary refrigeration and support resources for the efficient operation of the service. As a result, a fee is levied for the tissue in order to cover costs and ensure the development of the Eye Bank, which is an essential and community driven health care resource within the province. Patients receiving grafts and transplants within state hospitals receive tissue that is paid for by that state hospital. Private hospital patients belonging to medical aid schemes receive tissue that is usually reimbursed by the scheme.


    A tissue bank is a non profit establishment staffed with suitably qualified professionals who recover, screen, test, process, store and distribute human tissue acquired from donors using strict international guidelines for transplantation.


    Eye Banks:

    • Johannesburg: Gauteng Cornea & Eye Bank
    • Cape Town: Eye Bank Foundation of SA
    • Durban: KZN Cornea & Eye Association

    Bone Bank:

    • Pretoria: National Tissue Bank

    Cardio Vascular:

    • Bloemfontein: UFS Tissue Lab

    Multi-Tissue Bank: (cornea, bone & tendon, skin, heart valve)

    • Pretoria: Centre for Tissue Engineering

    An authorised tissue bank is fully qualified to screen, test, recover, process and distribute human tissue which is legally and respectfully obtained, is safe for transplantation and of a consistent high quality.

    Screening: Donor screening is done to determine factors that may render the tissue unsuitable for transplantation. Donor suitability is initially assessed by means of a comprehensive screening process that includes the evaluation of the medical and social history and testing of blood and tissue samples.

    During tissue recovery, a blood sample is collected from the donor and tested for infectious disease as well as harmful micro-organisms by a SANAS certified laboratory.
    Tissue which is deemed not-suitable for transplantation is incinerated at the cost of the relevant tissue bank.

    Recovery: To ensure high quality tissue, the procurement is done by dedicated skilled individuals in compliance with rigid recovery procedures. Recovery is accomplished by using surgically clean techniques that are usually performed in a non-operating room environment. Retrieval officers make use of prosthesis where necessary to ensure no disfigurement of the donor body.

    Processing: The processing methods are designed to reduce contamination of the tissue through a variety of in-process measures. The processing and packaging of tissue is performed in a clean room environment. For certain tissues, this is followed by a sterilisation process by means of gamma radiation at an ISO certified facility.

    Distribution: Due to the diverse nature of the various tissues, different guidelines apply in terms of distribution with build-in policies to ensure that allografts are distributed fairly, without favouritism or prejudice.

    Eye tissue donation A cornea and/or sclera donation facilitates corneal and sclera transplantation.
    Donated eye tissue can prevent blindness and restore sight to people who are partially or completely blind due to corneal damage following a genetic condition, illness or injury.
    Injuries such as being injured on duty, for example chemical burns in the eye, or object injuries due to a motor vehicle accident can cause severe damage to the cornea and create a desperate need for a corneal transplant.

    Bone and tendon donation Donated bone and tendons can be grafted to replace bone and ligaments that were lost as a result of disease, tumours or injury; restoring health and in some cases independence and mobility.
    Bone and tendon transplants can also enhance fracture healing, strengthen hip and knee joint replacements, replace torn ligaments or repair spinal deformities. It can also save a limb in a person who has developed cancer and would otherwise be facing limb amputation.
    Without these essential transplants, the recipients’ opportunity to lead normal, healthy and active lives would be impossible.

    Heart tissue donation When the heart is not suitable for transplantation, the organ may be donated and the aortic and pulmonary valves transplanted to correct a heart abnormality within another patient. Heart tissue donations are often used to repair congenital defects in young children and babies and to replace diseased valves in adults.
    Whilst artificial valves and even certain animal valves can also be used, human heart tissue is preferable because it is more resistant to infection, and can enable the recipient to lead a life without the need for ‘chronic’ blood thinning medication. This factor makes human heart valves safer for women of childbearing age and allows children to lead normal active lives.

    Skin donation Only the very top outermost layer of skin (epidermis) is carefully removed from some areas of the donor’s body, to effectively treat burn victims. Uncontrolled veld and shack fires, hot water and chemical burns cause life threatening burn wounds to thousands of South Africans every year, most of which are children. Without donor skin burn victims suffer agonizing injuries and often face certain death.
    Skin grafting has been medically recognised as the most effective way to minimise scarring and promote healing of severe burns. Children particularly need skin grafts as a small burn or scald can cover most of their body, and these skin grafts may be lifesaving. A burn patient suffering with severe burns may need repeated skin grafts from numerous donors until their burns heal sufficiently.
    When skin is donated, only a very thin layer (similar to tissue paper) is removed and the area from which it is retrieved looks like a light graze.



    There are approximately 4,300 South African adults and children awaiting a life-saving organ and cornea transplant.


    In South Africa in 2016:
    • There were 512 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 361 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 23 adults & 2 Paediatric
      • Lungs: 14 adults
      • Livers: 40 adults, 4 adolescents and 21 paediatric of which:
        • 1 adult & 14 paediatric were live related
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 3 adult & 1 paediatric
      • Kidneys: 234 adults, 3 adolescent & 12 paediatrics of which:
        • 86 adults, 2 adolescents & 4 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 26 adult kidney transplants was live non-related
        • 37% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • Pancreas: 1 adult
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 3 paediatric
      • 151 adults, adolescents and children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2015:
    • There were 548 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 369 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 27 adults
      • Lungs: 12 adults
      • Livers: 44 adults, 5 adolescents and 22 paediatric of which:
        • 13 paediatric were live related
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 1 adult & 2 paediatric
      • Kidneys: 231 adults, 4 adolescent & 16 paediatrics of which:
        • 48 adults & 5 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 44 adult kidney transplants was live non-related
        • 21% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 3 adults
      • Pancreas after kidney: 2 adults
      • 179 adults, adolescents and children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2014:
    • There were 515 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 321 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 32 adults and 1 adolescent
      • Lungs: 7 adults
      • Livers: 34 adults, 3 adolescents and 23 paediatric of which:
        • 8 Paediatric were live related
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 1 adult
      • Kidneys: 195 adults, 1 adolescent & 17 paediatrics of which:
        • 60 adults & 5 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 33 adult kidney transplants was live non-related
        • 30% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 5 adults
      • Pancreas after kidney: 2 adults
      • 194 adults, adolescents and children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2013:
    • There were 566 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 335 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 25 adults
      • Lungs: 7 adults
      • Livers: 37 adults , 2 adolescents & 16 paediatric of which 1 adult & 8 Paediatric were live related
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 1 adult & 1 paediatric
      • Kidneys: 222 adults, 4 adolescents & 3 paediatrics of which:
        • 77 adults, 4 adolescents & 3 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 24 adult kidney transplants was live non-related
        • 36% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 6 adults
      • Pancreas: 1 adult
      • Pancreas after kidney: 3 adults
      • 231 adults, adolescents and children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2012:
    • There were 573 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 319 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 24 adults & 3 paediatrics
      • Lungs: 8 adult
      • Livers: 28 adults , 3 adolescent & 4 paediatric
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 2 paediatrics
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 8 adults
      • Pancreas after kidney: 1 adult
      • Kidneys: 213 adults, 14 adolescents & 11 paediatrics of which:
        • 83 adult, 6 adolescent & 4 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 20 adult and 2 paediatric kidney transplant was live non-related
        • 39% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • 254 adults, adolescents and children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2011:
    • There were 556 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 337 of these were solid organ transplants broken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 25 adults & 1 adolescent o Simultaneous Heart / Lung: 1 adult
      • Lungs: 4 adult
      • Livers: 26 adults & 4 paediatric
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 1 paediatrics
      • Simultaneous heart/kidney: 1 adults
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 11 adult
      • Kidneys: 234 adults, 11 adolescents & 18 paediatrics of which:
        • 84 adult, 4 adolescent & 7 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 22 adult, 1 adolescent and 1 paediatric kidney transplant was live non-related
        • 36% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
      • 197 adults, 16 adolescents & 6 children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2010:
    • There were 604 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 344 of these were solid organ transplants roken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 24 adults & 1 child oSimultaneous Heart / Lung: 1 adult
      • Lungs: 4 adults
      • Livers: 30 adults, 2 adolescents & 4 paediatrics
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 12 adults.
      • Kidneys: 244 adults, 8 adolescents & 14 paediatrics of which:
        • 86 adult, 4 adolescent & 6 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 23 adult kidney transplants were live non-related
        • 36% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
    • 231 adults, 14 adolescents & 15 children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.

    In South Africa in 2009:
    • There were 724 organ and cornea transplants.
    • 376 of these were solid organ transplants roken down into the following:
      • Hearts: 25 adults & 1 adolescent
      • Lungs: 8 adults
      • Livers: 26 adults, 1 adolescent & 10 paediatrics
      • Simultaneous kidney/pancreas: 11 adults.
      • Simultaneous kidney/liver: 2 adolescents & 2 paediatrics
      • Kidneys: 263 adults, 11 adolescents & 16 paediatrics of which:
        • 100 adult, 8 adolescent & 9 paediatric transplants were live related
        • 31 adult and 1 paediatric kidney transplants were live non-related
        • 40% of kidney donors were related to the recipient
    • 299 adults, 33 adolescents & 16 children had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.




    German surgeon Carl Bunger performed plastic surgery on woman's nose, grafting skin from her thigh. (First reliable report of transplant surgery.)


    French physiologist Paul Bert demonstrated that tissues transplanted from one person to another are rejected.

    Early 20 th century

    French surgeon Alexis Carrel and American physiologist Charles Guthrie developed surgical techniques needed for performing transplants, but rejection remained a problem.


    First corneal transplant by Austrian ophthalmologist, Dr. Edward Zim.


    First skin allograft by Swiss surgeon Jacques Louis Reverdin.


    First blood transfusion.


    First successful living-related kidney transplant from identical twins performed by Dr. Joseph Murray & Dr. David Hume in Boston, MA. The recipient had normal kidney function for 8 years.


    Initial fresh heart valve allograft put into descending aorta.


    French immunologist Jean-Baptiste-Gabriel-Joachim Dausset discovered histocompatibility system for tissue matching.


    First fresh heart valves implanted into cardiac position.


    First successful cadaveric kidney transplant by Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. David Hume in Boston, MA. The recipient had normal kidney function for 21 months.


    First liver transplant performed by Dr. Thomas Starzl.


    First lung transplant performed by Dr. James Hardy at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre, Jackson, MS.


    First heart transplant performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital, South Africa. The recipient had normal heart function for 18 days.


    First successful pancreas transplant performed by Dr. Richard Lillehei at Minnesota University.


    Brain death criteria created.


    America - The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act Legislation allows gifts of organs to others.


    Frozen heart valves used in allograft.


    Introduction of cryopreserved human skin allografts.


    Swiss biochemist Jean Borel discovered remarkable immunosuppression properties of cyclosporine.


    Living related pancreas transplanted, Minneapolis, MN.


    First heart and lung transplant performed by Dr. Norman Shumway at Stanford University Medical Centre, Stanford, CA.


    Approval of cyclosporine, the most successful anti-rejection medication developed to date.


    First heart and liver transplant performed by Dr. Starzl at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.


    First liver transplant from a living related donor.


    Lung transplantation attempted as cure for cystic fibrosis.


    Dr. Joseph Murray (performed first kidney transplant) awarded Nobel Prize for Medicine.


    Dr. Thomas (pioneered bone marrow transplant as cure for leukaemia) awarded Nobel Prize.


    First successful heart related lung transplant.


    First attempt at partial lung transplant.


    First successful small intestine transplant.


    U.S. Surgeons at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University Hospital perform split-liver transplant.


    First successful hand transplant led by Australian Dr. Earl Owen and Frenchman Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard in a 13-hour long operation in Lyon, France.


    First successful partial face transplant led by Dr. Bernard Devauchelle and Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France.


    Dr. Michael DeBakey, the world-famous cardiovascular surgeon who pioneered such now-common procedures as bypass surgery and invented a host of devices to help heart patients, died on July 11, at the age of 99.


    The world’s first full face transplant took place in Spain. The recipient was a man injured in a shooting accident. In July, the recipient who was only identified as Oscar (age 31), spoke with considerable difficulty at a news conference at Barcelona's Vall d'Hebron hospital, where he was operated on in late March.


    • Universitas Hospital – State
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults

      Netcare Universitas Hospital – Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults
    • Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital - Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults
      Heart – adults and paediatrics

      Netcare UCT Private Academic Hospital Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults
      Heart – adults

      Groote Schuur Hospital – State
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney - adults
      Liver - adults
      Heart - adults

      Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital – State
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – paediatrics
      Liver - paediatrics
      Heart - paediatrics

      Tygerberg Hospital – State
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults
    • Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital – State
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults

      Entabeni Hospital – Life Healthcare (Private)
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults

      Ethekwini Hospital & Heart Centre
      Transplant Programmes:
      Heart – adults
      Lung – adults
      Heart / Lung – adults

      Netcare St. Augustine’s Hospital – Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults
      Heart – adults
    • Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital – State
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults and paediatrics
      Adult Simultaneous Kidney/Pancreas – adults

      Netcare Garden City Clinic – Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults
      Adult Simultaneous Kidney/Pancreas – adults

      Netcare Milpark Hospital – Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults
      Heart – adults
      Lung – adults
      Heart / Lung – adults and paediatrics
      Simultaneous Kidney/Pancreas – adults

      Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (Private)
      Transplant Programmes:
      Kidney – adults and paediatric
      Kidney / Pancreas - adults
      Liver – adults and paediatric
    • George Mukhari Hospital – State
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney - adults

      Netcare Jakaranda Hospital – Netcare (Private)
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney – adults

      Pretoria Academic Hospital – State
      Transplant Programme:
      Kidney- adults
    • Centre for Tissue Engineering (Pretoria)
      @ Tshwane University of Technology
      Multi-disciplinary Human Tissue Bank

      Eye Bank Foundation of SA (Cape Town)
      Human eye tissue (corneal and sclera tissue)

      Gauteng Cornea & Eye Bank (Johannesburg)
      Human eye tissue (corneal and sclera tissue)

      KZN Cornea & Eye Association (Durban)
      Human eye tissue (corneal and sclera tissue)

      National Tissue Bank (Pretoria)
      @ University of Pretoria
      Allograft tissue (human bone)

      UFS-Lab (Pretoria)
      @ University of Free State
      Cryopreserved aortic and pulmonary heart valve homografts


    Vol 10:

    Vol 11:

    Vol 13:

    Vol 14:

    Vol 15:

    Vol 16:


    National Health Act. NO 61

    Please see the following link for Health Legislations on the Dept. of Health website
    National Health Act. NO 61 (2.98 MB PDF Download)



  • Our office hours are 9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday.

    We are closed over the weekend, but if you have an emergency, please refer to the emergency number at the emergency tab on the left.

    Tel: 0800 22 66 11 (toll free)

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    PLEASE NOTE:  The Organ Donor Foundation head office is in Cape Town. We send all our information and organ donor packs from the head office. 
    FOR ALL QUERIES FROM ALL REGIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA:  Including queries on organ donation, media queries, queries regarding awareness talks or wellness days, to become a volunteer or regarding upcoming events, etc., please contact our toll free number or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Please use this number if you are calling in connection with a potential organ or tissue donor after hours (4pm). You will then be put in touch with the correct transplant coordinator or tissue bank in your area.


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    Please contact the Organ Donor Foundation on:
    0800 22 66 11 Toll Free line DURING OFFICE HOURS, or
    082 318 4376 Emergency line AFTER HOURS.

    An Organ Donor Foundation staff member will ask you to provide the following details:

    • Name of your loved one
    • Cause of death
    • Time of death
    • Age of your loved one
    • Is your loved one at a hospital or at a mortuary or undertaker?
    • The area where your loved one is situated
    • Your name, contact number and relation to the deceased

    They will thereafter pass on the information provided to the nearest transplant centre or tissue bank.

    IMPORTANT TO KNOW: SOLID ORGANS such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and pancreas can only be donated if your loved one has been diagnosed with brain death and is on a ventilator in a hospital. In this case, upon receiving your call, the Organ Donor Foundation will pass on the information to the nearest transplant centre and soon thereafter a transplant coordinator will contact you.

    TISSUE such as bone, skin, corneas and heart valves may be used if your loved one is either on a ventilator or has already passed away and their body is at the mortuary or undertakers. In this case, a representative from the Tissue Banks or Eye Bank will be in touch with you.


    Thank you for taking this step to ensure your loved ones wishes are honored during such a traumatic time.